10/05/2006

"Billions of planets fill our galaxy"


LexisNexis News - Hubble Discovery; Milky Way is chock-full of planets

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Does anyone still remember just a few years ago, back when we did not even know if there were any planets outside our own solar system? Now we have been informed that there are probably billions of planets that dot the galaxy, which leads me to believe that it is almost impossible there aren't any intelligent beings out there. I can remember learning in Physics 111 freshman year of college that the Earth has developed and sustained life so successfully largely because of the support provided by Jupiter, which sucks up all of the potentially threatening space rocks (like those in the movies Deep Impact and Armageddon). The Hubble telescope has now found 16 Jupiter-like planets and NASA scientists are now confident that these are only the tip of the iceberg. Mankind has always been mystified by the heavens, and incrementally we have made progress in our understanding of the laws that govern the motions of its many celestial bodies, but never before have we been so close to finding the little blue dot cast up against the vast darkness of space. One day very soon mankind will look skyward with confidence that we are not alone.
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